Free Screening!

Movie Queen, Lubec, Margaret Cram, USA, 1936, 28m
Movie Queen, Lincoln, Margaret Cram, USA, 1936, 37m
Movie Queen, Middlebury, Margaret Cram, USA, 1939, 32m

Throughout the 1930s, Margaret Cram directed the same film again and again. An itinerant filmmaker based in Boston, she made her living by traveling to cities across New England and producing her Movie Queen scenarios with the people who lived there. In each iteration, the eponymous character is a Hollywood star returning to her hometown and visiting nearby businesses, the drama emerging when the Movie Queen becomes the target of a comic kidnapping plot and is ultimately rescued by a local hero. Once shot, the material was quickly processed and assembled so that it could be shown to all involved, granting participants a chance to see themselves and their neighbors in the pictures—ersatz screen idols, if only for one night. This program of three such reels affords a rare glimpse into a little-known genre of amateur filmmaking, which achieves a curious poignancy through the repetition of its design.